"But, Fangirl," you'd ask, "what's the big deal? Clearly you're putting more effort into this than some Americans, so why complain?" Well, setting aside the existential angst I'm continuing to suffer thanks to inconsistent and fragmented data on job prospects for college kids in the US, I overthink everything.
Then you'd probably ask again, "So what?" or long-time readers would say, "Obviously, so tell me something new." Sad to say it may not be new, but I'm definitely someone who overthinks things because I want to be about 99.9% sure I know what I'm getting myself into. While I am determined to become bilingual someday, I suffer the paralyzing fear of making a fool of myself. Be it mispronouncing a word, misunderstanding what someone says, or speaking an unpopular opinion, I prefer to sit and do research all day to prepare to share what I've found than jump out and assume out of the blue.
At this point it's becoming a double-edged sword, if not an Achille's heel for me. One would think a twenty-one year old should know by now what they want to do and work to get their goals met. I'd like to think I know what I can see myself generally doing out in the work force, but a large cloud of pessimism lingers over my head from my own insecurities and the plague of fear and paranoia I'm seeing all over the place.
|YES. FUCK YES. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YES. THAT|
STUDY WAS DISPROVEN A BILLION TIMES GET YOUR
KIDS VACCINATED DAMN IT OR WE ALL WILL GET SICK.
Even if I manage to avoid talk of that awful person, I hear how every single Muslim has to die because of terrorism, which we helped fuel and set fire to, dear America, how making a nuclear deal with Iran will somehow allow the planet to self-destruct, and how we should bomb every problem away without restraint. Meanwhile, Syrian refugees have nowhere to go because their country is ablaze and Europeans are just as Islamaphobic if not worse than us. The world economy is still out of sorts despite the recession being "over", and now China is starting to feel some of the downs. Millions of millennials in numerous first world countries still can't get work worth a damn because economists don't calculate the number of work-eliogible people who gave up searching in the terrible markets. Oh, and Japan has passed new defense laws that defy their constitution despite that over half of the people don't want the military to expand, possibly get sucked in the "necessary" wars the US started, and potentially destroy any calm that is left in the Pacific Ocean. And rather than have college kids study history to see any patterns and predict if any major wars can erupt between the major powers, let's axe the humanities and prop "lucrative" vocations and majors because who gives a shit about communicating effectively to the common folk, thinking critically, performing research, and saving lives?
... I seriously hope this is all a part of some kind of phase we can recover from, because it's scaring me.
Let me backpedal before people get too angry. There is nothing inherently wrong with the STEM and vocational fields. Those kinds of jobs will always be needed for the people who can perform that work well. We need to know how to build more efficient technologies, create medical advances, and solve problems in a logical manner. We also need people who know how to maintain plumbing, electricity, and all sorts of common devices we take for granted. People need to know how to build and renovate buildings so nothing falls to waste and irrelevance. I get and admire that. For a few years I wanted to be in medicine because I have so much respect for doctors who ensure people are healthy, well-nurished, and safe from innumerable illnesses.
But the thing that I've been noticing is that people are telling my generation that we need to invest in STEM fields because that's the only way we'll have a job. I'm sure I was born in the wrong generation because I never believed that making money is the sole reason to work. In my mind I believed in studying and building skills that complement your talents and interests in work. If you're mathematically inclined and love it, go for that the degree that'll give you those skills. If graphic design is your interest and biology is your weakness, then don't pick a STEM major for the sole sake of making money. While you do need to have skills that are practical (i.e. public speaking, critical thinking, logic, writing, etc.), there are far too many kinds of jobs one can obtain that can provide you a reasonable wage. Some people - particularly humanities people like me - have to be more creative in how we get somewhere, but we're not doomed to toil on the streets. (Hell, I've met STEM graduates who can't find work either, so it's not just a humanities problem - it's an economic and social problem.)
There are a few reasons why I close Anthropology as a major, and one of them is that I continue to see how people fail to communicate clearly and effectively. History and analyzing past events are called worthless, and yet entire groups of people forget past atrocities and allow new ones to emerge without resistance. Some people radically reinvent interpretations of rules and ideas to pass along convolutedly designed or written policies that need a professor to read even years after the policy is put into effect. Most people don't understand what anthropology is or why anyone should bother about attempting to understand cultures, and yet I see people cheer when Donald Trump unapologetically calls Mexican immigrants rapists on TV. While many have admitted it's due to their inexperience than racism, whites repeatedly insist that all Asians look, talk, and must be the same, just as all blacks are loud thugs, and all non-English speakers are stupid and backwards. It's very important to have math and statistics to record trends, but to complement this someone with a critical mind has to understand what questions were asked, who asked them, and why some people refused to participate in the data collection. For example, it's nice that a female Viagra is out (even though it affects brain chemistry and not blood flow to the crotch), we need to understand why some women are against it and if the drug needs improvements.
From the limited point of view I'm sitting in, I see the US blinded by fear and extremism, a phenomenon I see traces of everywhere else in one way or another. Moderate and cooperative views are signs of cowardice and treason. Being objective, double-checking facts, and apologizing when one makes a mistake hardly exist anymore in places where people once expected such ideal standards. We are more interconnected via the internet, and yet we strive for isolation and our own self-interests to extreme and sometimes near-sighted degrees. Some people have subscribed to ideologies of not asking questions in the fear of being arrested, attacked, or humiliated into silence. Say one thing wrong to the wrong people and your personal information is plastered on a billboard for hit men to find their next job.
There are dozens if not hundreds of issues worldwide we are ignorant of or have no clue how to resolve, and I can confidently tell you that I'm just as stumped as everyone else. Sorry, Disney and fairy tale children stories, but one person alone can't push a mountain that has stood for thousands of years. But that being said, I'm not going to stop trying to figure out how I can do something productive. I know that having a desk job from 9 to 5 in a business will more than likely make me miserable. I know I can't save lives through medicine because I can't tell you how any of the thousands of medications work. Give me a calculus problem and I'll have a panic attack. Tell me to be a physicist and I'll fall asleep and dream of the cool new things we're discovering in space.
But if you ask me about the political situation in England for example, I'll look up a few books and websites to read, look up professionals who studied that topic, pay attention to the news, read comments from Brits and non-Brits, and engage in some dialogue. Ask me about video games and I'll go on for a while on the industry, its practices, its controversies, and the subcultures that formed around the medium. While the methodology can be more subjective than what mathematicians deal with, I'll gather, analyze, and discuss data I've found to gauge a situation and find what needs improvement and what doesn't. It'll take many years until I become an expert in a field, but I'm willing to spend time and energy absorbing information and asking questions until I can understand and know what actions to take to help the world.
Until then, I might have to travel and take "low-paying" jobs and volunteer work to get a head-start in a career. So long as I travel and have enough to buy food, clothes, a roof over my head, plumbing, and electricity to charge my iPod, I don't need to be a millionaire with a mansion. So overrated.
In the meantime, back to Japanese.
私は学生です。... Geez, I miss typing in Chinese... not so easy anymore...